Power outages are becoming an alarmingly common occurrence for U.S. businesses. As extreme weather events such as hurricanes, heatwaves and wildfires increase in both frequency and intensity, power supply disruptions are wreaking havoc with business operations. In fact, utility customers experienced 1.33 billion outage hours in 2020, up 73% from roughly 770 million in 2019, according to PowerOutage.US, an aggregator of utility blackout data. Meanwhile, the cost of unexpected power outages continues to take a steep toll on an organization’s bottom line; the Uptime Institute’s 2022 analysis found that more than 60% of failures result in losses of at least $100,000, up substantially from 39% in 2019.
With so much at stake, an increasing number of organizations are investing in backup generators for their buildings. An ideal option to help power through unexpected outages, these generation systems provide peace of mind that business-as-usual operations can continue without interruption.
What is a Backup Generator For Business?
By delivering a consistent power supply, a standby generator ― also known as a backup generator, emergency generator or commercial generator ― allows businesses to remain open and operational during an extended blackout. Both emergency and backup generators are classified as standby generators, meaning they are ‘standing by’ to operate when needed. Commercial power generators represent a relatively small investment for an organization when weighed against the potential costs of unexpected downtime. Installed outside of a business location, a standby generator will automatically switch on within seconds of the utility power source being lost.
Types of Backup Generators
Because there are different types of backup generators, prior to purchasing a unit it is wise to consult a professional who can help assess your power needs and determine the optimal unit for your application. Power requirements, fuel availability, budget, portability needs and intended uses are all factors that impact generator selection. The most common commercial generator options include:
Ideal for backing up a business, standby generators are permanently installed outside of a building and connected directly to the electrical system. They can automatically detect a power outage and within seconds, begin supplying electricity to critical loads such as air conditioners, refrigerators and sensitive electronic devices. Standby generators can be fueled by natural gas, propane or diesel, depending on your needs.
Versatile and easily movable, portable generators typically run on gasoline or diesel and provide temporary power during emergencies. Available in different sizes and power outputs, portable generators are a great alternative for remote locations, as well as for recreational purposes such as sporting events and concerts. Unlike standby generators, a mobile generator must be powered on manually, unless it has been pre-wired to a building through a generator connection panel. If this is the case, the unit is also capable of powering hardwired systems within the facility, such as air conditioning, heat, computer systems, security systems, refrigerators and freezers.
Businesses That Benefit From Having Backup Generators
Regardless of the business sector or the size of an organization, virtually every company has the potential to benefit from having a generator as a backup power supply. However, it is important for each organization to assess its specific needs and budget, and evaluate the potential toll a power outage could take on a business ― both on uptime and bottom line. However, there are many applications where an emergency generator is expected or required, including:
Hospitals and healthcare facilities
In healthcare settings, an uninterrupted power supply is critical to maintain life-saving equipment, ensure patient safety and support medical procedures, making emergency generators essential.
Because data centers house servers and computer systems that store and process valuable data, a backup generator is key to preventing data loss and ensuring uninterrupted operation during power outages. Many data center facilities have Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with uptime requirements tied to their customers.
Telecom providers are required to maintain continuous connectivity in order to keep their networks and services operational. A backup generator ensures that this communication infrastructure remains up and running, even during power disruptions.
Banks and financial institutions
Because the financial sector relies on a consistent supply of electricity to power ATMs, online banking systems and electronic payment systems, a backup generator helps to ensure that customers will have continued access to these banking services even during a loss of utility power.
Having an emergency generator is a natural expectation at police stations, fire departments and emergency response centers, which require uninterrupted power for communication systems and other equipment, as well as to maintain critical operations during disasters or emergencies.
Manufacturing and industrial facilities
Because many manufacturing plants and industrial facilities use heavy machinery and production equipment that can be sensitive to power fluctuations, backup generators are important to help prevent downtime, maintain production schedules and protect valuable machinery.
Retail and supermarkets
Retail establishments require electricity to operate cash registers, lighting, security systems, refrigeration units and other devices. A backup generator ensures that operations can continue for these businesses during power disruptions.
Schools, colleges and universities need to maintain power in classrooms and computer labs, for security systems and other essential services. Backup generators help minimize disruptions and ensure a safe learning environment.
Hotels and hospitality industry
Hotel guests expect uninterrupted services, including lighting, heating, cooling and essential amenities. Backup generators ensure that guests are not inconvenienced during power outages.
Restaurants and food service
Restaurants heavily rely on electricity to power cooking equipment, refrigeration systems and other essential appliances. A backup generator allows these businesses to continue operations, serve customers and prevent food spoilage.
Eight Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Backup Generator
Without the proper solutions in place, unexpected power failures can prevent your company from operating as usual ― halting production, damaging expensive equipment and potentially forcing your business to turn away customers. Installing a backup generator not only enables you to continue operating smoothly during a power outage, but can prevent irreversible losses ― from revenue to equipment damage to safety consequences.
While generator requirements will vary by business sector, location and the potential impacts of power outages on operations, some of the most common reasons for deploying a standby generator include:
- Locations susceptible to power outages ― In areas where power outages are frequent or unreliable, having a backup generator ensures that essential business operations can continue uninterrupted. This is particularly important for businesses that rely heavily on electricity, such as data centers, hospitals, manufacturing facilities or those operating critical infrastructure.
- High demand for business continuity ― A backup generator plays a vital role in business continuity planning, enabling a business to continue operating even during a power disruption. Companies are able to minimize downtime, financial losses and potential reputation damage.
- To power customer service operations― Many businesses rely on technology to support customers, such as call centers or online systems. A backup generator ensures that these systems remain functional during power outages, promoting continuous customer support and satisfaction.
- To protect sensitive data ― For businesses that handle large amounts of data, such as financial institutions or technology companies, a power outage can lead to data loss or corruption. Backup generators provide a reliable power source, safeguarding critical data and preventing costly disruptions.
- To satisfy compliance requirements ― Certain industries, such as healthcare or finance, have strict regulatory requirements that demand a continuous power supply to ensure patient safety, data integrity, or financial transaction processing. Backup generators help businesses meet these compliance standards.
- To safeguard equipment ― Some businesses rely on specialized equipment that requires a stable power supply, such as refrigeration units, medical devices, or manufacturing machinery. A backup generator can prevent damage or spoilage of sensitive equipment and protect the business from potential losses.
- To bolster reliability in remote locations ― Businesses operating in remote or off-grid locations may not have access to a reliable power grid. In such cases, a backup generator becomes crucial for providing a consistent power supply to support day-to-day operations.
- To be prepared for natural disasters ― Areas prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires or severe storms are likely to experience power outages. A backup generator ensures that essential services can continue during these emergencies and aids in disaster recovery efforts.
Learn About Unified Power’s Generator Maintenance and Repair Services
As a national, one-stop generator maintenance and repair provider, Unified Power understands just how critical ongoing generator health is to a business. We provide planned maintenance and repair services for industrial generators in both standby and prime power applications utilizing diesel, natural gas or propane. Our preventive maintenance services help facilities to avoid unplanned downtime and costly repairs by providing the opportunity to catch potential issues early. In addition, these proactive services ensure that you remain compliant with the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 110 code for generator services and testing.
At Unified Power, our team of highly trained technicians delivers industry-leading maintenance with fast response times. We also offer retrofit and upgrade services for the entire generator or individual components. Request a quote today to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your business and operations will remain protected during a power outage.